Summer Businesses’ Blueprint To Recovery
By Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Seasonal businesses are hoping to mount a recovery starting with the 4th of July weekend, but that starts with safety.
Wendy Collins, co-owner of The Mission Inn Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey, told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank, that typically, she would be booked solid through August by now. However, she remains “cautiously optimistic” that last-minute bookings will continue as the Tri-State Area moves forward with reopening in phases.
“Now, it’s probably on average a 15 minute conversation every time the phone rings,” Collins said.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, customers would only ask one or two questions before booking a stay.
“The questions are extremely detailed in terms of social distancing, are masks required, what are your cleaning protocols, what’s happening in the town with the restaurants,” she said.
Collins lists the cleaning products she uses and strict health protocols, including contact-free check-in and check-out on The Mission Inn website.
“The game has changed,” she said of the hospitality industry. “Patience is critical. Everybody is playing with new rules and trying to figure it out as we go, and if we’re just patient to each other and kind to each other, we’ll get through it.”
Collins says Cape May businesses are calling 2020 the “year of survival.” For her, that begins with building on the trust of her customers – 60 percent of whom are repeat vacationers at her four year old bed and breakfast.
“We’ve got a lot of strong people here, a lot of strong entrepreneurs, and we’re just trying to tread water in 2020 and get back, and hopefully, looking ahead to 2021,” she said.
Gabrielle Long co-owns two locations of Kai-Kai Sandals in Montauk with her brother, Kai Costanzo, and a boutique named Summer Stock at Gosman’s Dock on “The End” of Long Island. They also own Inn at Old Harbor on Block Island.
“Everybody has been very understanding, and also, kind of grateful,” Long told Connolly and Carousso of the health procedures she and her brother implemented to keep their employees and customers safe.
“At least in Montauk, there’s lines out on the street for people picking up a smoothie or going into the hardware store when it gets too crowded,” she described as capacity limits and social distancing prevent the usual crowds from congregating in her shops, especially on summer weekends.
Long concurs with Collins’ assertion that “patience is important.” She adds that communication with customers waiting on line, to reiterate the protocols are for their safety and that they will be inside the store as soon as possible, will make them feel more at ease as everyone adjusts to the “new normal.”
Her workers all wear masks and have been trained to practice and enforce social distancing and sanitize the store.
“Some of these policies that we have in place are not bad for the future,” Long said as she plans beyond this unusual summer season. “We’re not going to go back to how it was, so we’ve got more space in the store, and that allows for more space for customer,s and when we’re allowed to have more customers, great.”
Hear how businesses in local summer vacation spots have prepared for reopening with an eye on recovery on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or the media player above.